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SERMONS

    The Word of God is so rich in insights, instructions, and inspiration, and we are so blessed to be able to receive in-depth, relevant Bible teaching on a regular basis from Pastor John.

    It is our sincere hope that as you read or listen to the Word of God made clear for today, that you will be blessed and filled with an ever-increasing desire to know the triune Creator God of the Universe--and to grow in your relationship with Him as your Father God, with Him as the Son and Coming King--the Lord Jesus Christ, and with Him in the person of the Holy Spirit.

SERMON TRANSCRIPTS

The Beauty of God Upon Us.

 

Psalm 90:16-17

16  Let your work be visible to your servants, and your majesty to their children.

17  And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish for us the work of our hands, yes, the work of our hands, establish it.

 

If I asked you to describe God using only one word, which word would you choose? "Beauty" would probably not be your first choice. Of the 49 times the word is found in the venerable KJV, beauty is only used a few times to describe God. And in only two verses do we find the phrase "the beauty of the Lord". David uses "beauty" in Ps. 27:4 ("One thing I ask of the LORD, this is what I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple") and Moses here in Ps. 90:17.

The importance of definitions. What did Moses and David mean by the "beauty" of the Lord? It reminds me of what Augustine once said: “You, Lord, created heaven and earth. They are beautiful because You are beauty. They are good because You are goodness.” And Thomas Merton said: “Nature rejoices not because it sees its creator, but nature rejoices because God sees it”. The Beauty of God is not something we often talk about. Yet Scripture and all nature is filled with descriptions of God’s beauty. Symmetry, balance, color, detail, all trumpet the beauty of God.

 

"The beauty of the Lord", it means "the pleasurable perception of God’s perfections." In Ps. 50:2, which is a unique expression of the beauty of the Lord in His matchless excellence and attractiveness, we read "Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God shines forth." Then Paul, in Ephesians 1:17-18, says the eyes of our hearts must be enlightened to see the beauty of God. To behold the beauty of God we must perceive Him correctly, know His true nature, and understand that He, in His person, possesses all that is desirable. To behold His beauty is to see Him as excellent – to witness the perfection of His character. When we read about His attributes and actions in Scripture and perceive God as He really is, then we will find Him pleasurable, beautiful. “Precious”, Peter says.

 

When Charles Kingsley, an eighteenth-century Anglican priest and author, was dying, he seemed to have had a glimpse of the heavenly splendor into which he was going, and of God in His brightness and loveliness, and he exclaimed, "How beautiful God is!” In light of this revelation, you might want to take time to see the beauty of God. He longs to show it to you. When you read the Word of God, don’t just look at His works or search for your needs to be met. Take the time to seek His beauty in the pages of Scripture.

I want to remind you of something that may be helpful for each of us to be able to see some of God’s beauty, majesty and splendor. Isaiah 49:15-16a paints a beautiful picture of God’s love for you: “Can a woman forget her nursing child, And not have compassion on the son of her womb? Surely they may forget, Yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of My hands; . . .”. The word translated "inscribed" is unusual because it also means "to imprint or engrave", but it also means "to imagine". It comes from an ancient practice among the very warlike Assyrians. When a young man was old enough, he would usually be inducted into the Assyrian army to fight in the empire's many battles. Assyrian mothers would look for a token--something to remind them of their absent sons. They would often go for a tattoo. Forbidden in Israel, tattooing was widely practiced among Israel's pagan neighbors and among Israel's enemies. The mother would have her son's name tattooed on her right hand. They believed the heart was connected to the right palm. This made the son as close to her heart as possible. Since even to this day the palm is one of the body parts we see most frequently, each time she saw the tattoo, she would think of her son. God is speaking metaphorically when He says, "I have inscribed [or engraved] you upon the palms of My hands". What He is saying to you is that you are closest to His heart, and He remembers you, not just because He does so for your sake--for our sakes, but also because He is imagining what He longs to do for you--for us.

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In Psalm 90, Moses asked God to show him His glory, which means His beauty, majesty and splendor--to show it to him and to the children of His servants. The grammar in verse 17 means it could be rendered as a blessing, that is, something like the following: “May God do good works for His servants, and may His splendor and majesty be upon their children and may the pleasure of God be upon us all." Moses continues, “And establish the work of our hands for us; Yes, establish it”. In other words, Moses is asking God to make the work we do successful or prosperous. Verse 17 reveals that our success or fruitful work is directly related to the beauty or pleasure of God being upon us. In other words, “may all our works be successful and bring pleasure to God”.

 

Both servants and children bring pleasure to God, but there is a distinct difference between the two. Servants experience, in a real way, the works of God in their lives. And Moses uses children to highlight another way we should think about and remember God: like children (and by the way, who did Jesus say we must be like to enter the Kingdom of God?) When we think of ourselves as children, we are not so much focused on what God has done, as important as that is. No, as children of God, we are more concerned with who our God is. As children, we see His beauty, majesty, and splendor.

 

C.S. Lewis once wrote, “The argument from beauty has a certain intuitive strength. It is roughly as follows: Beauty evokes longing. When we see or hear something of great beauty, we long for something beyond what we think is beautiful. A great piece of music impels us to desire for an experience beyond the one we are having. Perhaps, the beauty we are glimpsing is not in the music or painting or mountain-top view, but from somewhere else mediated through our experience. There is no way to satisfy the longing evoked by beauty apart from a transcendent reality. That reality is the Christian reality, God’s reality.”

Here is the real heart question for us today: To each of us who are both servants and children of God, do we really take the time to see - to marvel - to enjoy - to rejoice in the beauty of our God?

Each of us might want to also contemplate the answers to these questions: What about seeing the beauty of God in the major things that make up your life? Do you see the beauty of God in your immediate family, your church family, and in the friendships that you enjoy? Do you see God’s surpassing beauty in what makes you laugh or cry? What about the beauty of God in the work you still do? What about the beauty of God in other relationships you are a part of? Is the beauty of God seen even in the things that are difficult or painful? . . . and finally, . . .  Can others see the beauty of God in us?

SDG (Soli Deo Gloria)

December 25, 2022 | John 3:16Pastor Schenck
00:00 / 01:04
December 25, 2022 | John 3:16Pastor Schenck
00:00 / 01:04
December 25, 2022 | John 3:16Pastor Schenck
00:00 / 01:04
December 25, 2022 | John 3:16Pastor Schenck
00:00 / 01:04
December 25, 2022 | John 3:16Pastor Schenck
00:00 / 01:04
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